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Issue 16, 2012
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Chirality, photochemistry and the detection of amino acids in interstellar ice analogues and comets

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Abstract

The primordial appearance of chiral amino acids was an essential component of the asymmetric evolution of life on Earth. In this tutorial review we will explore the original life-generating, symmetry-breaking event and summarise recent thoughts on the origin of enantiomeric excess in the universe. We will then highlight the transfer of asymmetry from chiral photons to racemic amino acids and elucidate current experimental data on the photochemical synthesis of amino and diamino acid structures in simulated interstellar and circumstellar ice environments. The chirality inherent within actual interstellar (cometary) ice environments will be considered in this discussion: in 2014 the Rosetta Lander Philae onboard the Rosetta space probe is planned to detach from the orbiter and soft-land on the surface of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It is equipped for the in situ enantioselective analysis of chiral prebiotic organic species in cometary ices. The scientific design of this mission will therefore be presented in the context of analysing the formation of amino acid structures within interstellar ice analogues as a means towards furthering understanding of the origin of asymmetric biological molecules.

Graphical abstract: Chirality, photochemistry and the detection of amino acids in interstellar ice analogues and comets

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Publication details

The article was received on 24 Feb 2012 and first published on 10 May 2012


Article type: Tutorial Review
DOI: 10.1039/C2CS35051C
Citation: Chem. Soc. Rev., 2012,41, 5447-5458
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    Chirality, photochemistry and the detection of amino acids in interstellar ice analogues and comets

    A. C. Evans, C. Meinert, C. Giri, F. Goesmann and U. J. Meierhenrich, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2012, 41, 5447
    DOI: 10.1039/C2CS35051C

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